One of the most frustrating things about Thailand, is figuring out the proper visa. Thai law is constantly changing, and half the laws are not even enforced (I’ll get to that later.) One thing you will need regardless of visa type, is a passport. I am going to be brief here assuming that most have already conquered this step, if so proceed to step 2.
Step One: Getting a Passport.
For passport requirements check out the US Department of State.Once you have everything in order,make your way to the post office (or other approved provider) to get your documents sent off for processing.
Step Two: Figuring Out What Visa you need.
Visa on Arrival 30 Day Stay or Less: If you are from a qualifying country such as the US, you will receive a free 30 day stay in Thailand. If you wish to stay longer, you can exit the country and re-enter. This will give you an additional 30 days. You have a maximum of 3 entries or 90 days within a six month period. Cost Free
Exiting the County: Finding services to exit the country are quite easy. You can take a day trip across the border for less than $40. I crossed the border into Cambodia for only $12! You can find border run services at any bus station, or travel agency office. Be sure to shop around as prices can vary greatly, even within shops on the same street. Many hotels and hostels can arrange this service for you as well.
Tourist Visa 60 days or less: A tourist visa will allow you to stay in Thailand for up to 60 days without exiting the country. Cost $40
Double Entry Visa 120 days or less: The advantage of the double entry visa is you are allowed to stay 60 days at a time. Once your 60 days is up you can exit the country, and re-enter for another 60 days. Cost $80
*As of this posting the triple entry visa is no longer available
Education Visa Up to 1 Year: To get an education visa you must apply to a school approved by the Thai Ministry of Education, and receive an acceptance letter. Once you receive your letter, you can then apply for a 90 day visa which can be extended for a year. Master Toddys in Bangkok, is one of the only Muay Thai schools approved by the Thai Ministry of education. For $600 and a 3 month commitment to his school he can easily get you a year visa, but this is not the only option.
Your alternative is to apply outside Thailand, as regulations are often loosely enforced internationally. For example, many Thai visa officers in the US will except a printed letter from any school/gym as long as you have paid the $80 fee. This is up to the discretion of the visa officer, so you run the chance of being denied. I have met many expats training Muay Thai who have obtained a visa in this manner. If you are willing to take a gamble you can save yourself a decent amount of cash. Your final option is to apply to a Thai Language school, many language schools only require a weekly commitment of one class. Cost $80 to $600
Step Three: Mailing off Your Visa
What you will need:
- Two Passport Sized Photos (You can get these at Kinkos, Walgreens etc.)
- Your Passport
- Money Order with Appropriate Fee
- Properly Filled Out Application
*If you are a US citizen you do not need to show proof of arrival or departure. You can purchase your airline ticket after your visa arrives.
Since you will want your passport back, you will need to send a return envelope with proper postage along with all your documents. You should use a priority service, and be sure to obtain a tracking number.
*Not including mailing time, it takes about two weeks for processing.
For more information Visit the Thai Consulate Website.
Any Questions Feel Free To Ask!